Ordinary kitchen spices are good for so much more than flavoring your favorite dish. Some of these common seasonings and herbs show promise for cancer treatment or prevention. Others aid in stomach issues, drug detoxification, virus prevention, weight loss, appetite management, pain control, and blood pressure regulation. A few more have proven antibacterial, antimicrobial, or anti-inflammatory properties.
The surprising health benefits of 6 common kitchen spices, herbs, and seasonings
To get you started on this whole new way of looking at your spice rack, we investigate the health benefits of six spices – allspice, basil, caraway, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.
Health benefits of ALLSPICE
Allspice, so called because its flavor is often defined as a combination of spice flavors (cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg), lends more than its delightful flavor; allspice is a virtual medicine cabinet because of its many bioactive agents such as flavonoids, phenylpropanoids, phenolic acids, and catechins.
What that gets you: antioxidants, anticancer benefits, anti-inflammation reduction, analgesics (painkillers), antimicrobials (kills or blocks microorganisms), antipyretics (fever reduction), and even tumor-blocking properties. Allspice has been shown in studies to have anticancer properties, influencing carcinogen bioactivation.
Health benefits of BASIL
As well, basil has been shown in these studies to reduce the frequency of genetic mutations and counteracts the formation of tumors – important cancer-fighting properties.
Health benefits of CARAWAY
Are you fighting lesser problems than skin cancer? Caraway is also used by many to aid in relief of digestive problems, to loosen up phlegm, fight bacteria, and help control urination.
Cardamom research shows that it scavenges radicals and inhibits chemical carcinogenesis, functioning as a deterrent to cancer. Testing showed that it has positive effects against colon cancer due to its anti-inflammatory characteristics and its ability to aid in blocking cell proliferation.
The chemicals in cardamom also benefit those with gas and stomach or intestinal spasms.
Health benefits of CAYENNE PEPPER
- Weight loss: Much research has shown that cayenne pepper can help you lose weight. Some studies suggest that it does so by reducing your gut’s ability to absorb calories. Others show that it appears to reduce fat tissue or that it revs up your metabolism.A more recent study from South Korea’s Daegu University, suggests that capsaicin stimulates fat-degrading proteins. In effect, eating peppers eats your fat.
- Killing cancer cells: The property that gives cayenne peppers it’s heat on your tongue – Capsaicin – appears to also be capable of killing cancerous cells. A 2006 study reported in Cancer Research suggested that capsaicin caused prostate cancer cells to shrink and die.
- Improve digestion: Hot peppers with capsaicin can bolster your digestion by increasing your stomach’s digestive juices. It’s antibacterial properties can also help you to overcome diarrhea when it is caused by bacterial infection.
Health benefits of CINNAMON
Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant, and a good source of iron, fiber, manganese, and calcium. Benefits:
- Cinnamon has been shown in studies to be effective in reducing colon cancer risk. Some research has shown that as little as a daily half teaspoon of cinnamon is sufficient to reduce risk.
- Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels, and has been used to help those with type 2 diabetes to respond better to insulin.
- Cinnamon’s anti-microbial properties make it capable of stopping the growth of bacteria and fungi, and is often used to treat Candida yeast.
- Cinnamon improves vascular health, aiding in heart health.
- A 2004 study showed that the smell of cinnamon can boost brain activity. In the study, test scores improved simply by chewing cinnamon flavored gum.
- Results from a 2005 study and a 2006 study showed that cinnamon can suppress the growth of gastric cancer, lymphoma, and pancreatic cancer.
Many of these herbs and spices are also available in tablet form. But if you can get them fresh, you’ll also be benefiting from their live enzymes and greatest nutrient density.
In follow-up articles, we’ll tackle the rest of your spice rack.